Government budgets likely don’t top your list of go-to topics for entertaining reading. They’re probably more likely to wind up on a list of cures for insomnia. But despite the complete lack of sexiness, there are good reasons to overcome the yawn and get engaged. Here are Gen Squeeze’s top six.
- Budgets lock in government priorities for the year. And not just in terms of spending. Budgets play a key role in setting a government’s overall agenda. If you want governments to do (or not do) something, there’s a good bet that the budget is your litmus test.
- Budgets are go-time for turning election promises into reality. Budgets are where the rubber hits the road, so make sure your elected reps deliver on what they promised.
- Um, it’s your money? You pay taxes. Governments pool your money with tax dollars from others to deliver things that we can’t easily provide for ourselves as individuals – hospitals, roads, schools, courts, and so on. Don’t you want a say in how your money is used?
- Governments are consistently underinvesting in younger generations. Since 1976, spending per person has increased 4x faster for retirees than for people under 45. This money covers the cost of good things, like medical care and retirement income for older Canadians we love. But the wellbeing of younger Canadians is deteriorating, thanks to declining wages and higher costs for things like education, housing and child care. Investing urgently to address these challenges also matters.
- Governments aren’t investing urgently enough to preserve what’s sacred for future generations. Younger people bear the lion’s share of the risks of climate change, largely because the rest of us preferred to avoid the expense and inconvenience of acting. Recent research confirms that we can reduce climate costs by up to 75% via emissions reduction and proactive adaptation measures. What are we waiting for?
- We get the politics we deserve. It’s true that cynicism about politics is high, and trust in political leaders low. There are good reasons to be frustrated, and we share many of them. But the best response isn’t to opt out – but to double down on opting in. Because individuals may be able to hack a broken system to find a short-term patch, but a lasting repair is something no one person can manage alone. We have to raise our voices together to be the catalyst that sparks political leaders to design budgets that make Canada work for all generations.
Just in case the answer is still no, here’s one more thing to consider. You can count on Gen Squeeze to do a lot of heavy lifting at budget time, because we know that few people have time to wade through pages of budget tables. But what you can do – what really matters – is joining us to show your support for this work. Our punchlines about whether budgets hit or miss the mark on generational fairness are amplified when our network grows. Having a posse matters when you’re trying to influence the world of politics, so we’re asking you to saddle up and come along for the ride!